Featured User Review: Dura-Ace 7900 Groupset
by michaeld-c

Price: $1380.00 at chainreactioncycles
Overall Rating:
5 of 5
Value Rating:
5 of 5

Bike Setup:
Scott Addict. DA 7900. DA C24 Clinchers.

This is a strange review for me because I've long been a Campag fan. Before I go any further I just want to say I respect the opinion of all the other reviewers here and I don't want to start any arguments about DA vs Red vs SR, I simply want to convey my experiences with this groupset.

I've ridden Campag on my favourite bikes for years and so has my wife. Our "best bikes" have had Chorus 11 on them for about 18 months. My brother bought a SRAM Red group about 6 months ago and I've been able to play with his bike for most of this time as he works away. About 1 year ago I bought a Cannondale CAAD 9 with DA 7900 and FSA SLK crank (which uses the BB30 system). I didn't need it but it was 50% off and I've always wanted one so the wife gave me the nod. I always had the intention of fitting the Chorus 11 to it if I preferred the frame but a strange thing happened...

After having them all at my disposal I quickly worked out I didn't like the Red. It is ruthlessly efficient but the hood shape doesn't work for me and although it shifts fast, you need to use a lot of force at the lever.

My Chorus 11 is on a Scott Addict frame and I put it aside for a while I did the 60km commute to work on the CAAD9 a few times a week. The weather changed and I started doing more group rides (I'm notoriously lazy when it's cold). I dragged the Addict out and to my shock I found I had started to prefer the DA 7900 gear on the CAAD9. While I always liked the Campag 11 stuff, I suddenly found myself frustrated by constantly altering my grip on the hoods to reach the thumb lever, enduring the lazy shift onto the big ring and the need to do a lot of trimming to get decent use of the 11 speed cassette.

Hmm... I deliberately started riding all of them so I wouldn't be affected by the cycling condition known as "newitis" where whatever is newest seems best.

In the end I just couldn't deny the DA 7900 was most enjoyable for me. I bought 2 complete groupsets for $1380 AUD each and put them on the Addict and my wife's bike. I've never looked back. On a side note my wife is very small and light (44kg) and she loves the DA too. She likes the option of a 165 crank and the shift to the big ring is easiest for her. Red offers the 165 crank but needs strong hands to operate. Campag's smallest crank is 170 and the amount of lever travel needed to shift up front was a problem for her small hands.

I can honestly say I've had none of the issues mentioned by other reviewers and this goes for all three of the groups we've got.

I will concede a few things though:

The exposed shifter internals is a bit weird and worried me at first. After several thousand kilometres though it has not gotten dirty or caused problems. Don't know how it would go for Cyclocross though?

A previous reviewer commented on up shifting only 2 gears at a time. True but the speed with which it shifts makes it a non issue. I agree with another reviewer though that the down shift can seem vague in so much as it is very smooth and quiet. Mine never miss-shifts but it sometimes makes you wonder.

Chains do wear quicker than others but I am prepared to accept this for the quality shifting on offer.

The DA cables are the best of the lot. They are very good quality and do not seem to stretch as much. My DA groups have needed less tuning than the others but they are all ok in this regard.

People draw comparisons between 7900 and 7800 shift action. Yes 7800 was a fraction lighter in feel. What are you really comparing though? 7900 has hidden cables and so it must be compared with other hidden cable systems. 7800 was always going to be a tad smoother but 7900 is much smoother than Red or Campag 11. You have to compare apples to apples.

Despite the marketing hype from SRAM the weight difference between the Red and DA groups was less than 50g.

DA doesn't need ceramic bearings. I've felt the derailleur wheels and bottom brackets when swapping out chains and the DA bearings are the smoothest.

Price (it is now the cheapest of the premier groups.)
Brakes (while none are bad these are noticeably better.)
No trimming required if set up carefully.
Front shifting leaves others for dead.
Cranks (while I can't tell if the arms are stiffer, the chainrings definitely are.)
Great range of sizes for cranks and cassettes.
Upgradeable to Di2 later on. (I won't bother though.)

I really don't think any of the top tier groups have weaknesses, they just have quirks which make them more or less appealing to some people. Just get what feels comfortable or you like the look of and ride like hell.

Similar Products Used:
Chorus 11. Red. DA 7800. Chorus and Record 10 speed.

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